Antique Rug and Tapestry Symbols: Cupids or Cherubs
The Cupids (which are also known as cherubs) are iconic angelic childlike beings that traditionally are known as symbols of romantic love.
Cupids are motifs commonly used in Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo European art. When used as a putto, the reference was to Aphrodite, Greek mythology, and romantic love. When used as a cherub, the reference was to heavenly beings and angels, implying peace, innocence and leisure.
Cupids have always been viewed as positive beings. That said, the cupids are also famous for having quite the mischievous side as well. All in all, Cherubs are probably most well known for symbolizing love and purity.
Cupids / Cherubs Symbolism
Cherubs and cupid are artistic representations of young angelic looking creatures. Today, the image evoked by both the word cherub and the word Cupid is that of a young, chubby male with angel wings. While similar images come to mind when thinking of both cherubs and Cupid, they are not the same thing.
Cupid is a mythological being that is associated with romantic love. He is the Roman equivalent of the Greek god Eros. His parentage is somewhat up for debate, but traditionally, he is depicted as the son of Venus, the Roman goddess of love. Depending upon the version of the Cupid story you read, his father was either Mars, the Roman god of war or Mercury, the messenger of the Roman gods.
Originally, Cupid was depicted as a young man. Over time, his image has been changed.. During the time of the Renaissance, the depiction of Cupid became that of a male baby or toddler. He became chubbier and younger. He is depicted with wings and a bow with arrows. The change in Cupid’s appearance can be attributed to the way artists like Raphael depicted him in their artwork.
Like his parentage, the symbolism of Cupid has varied interpretations. Traditionally, Cupid is thought to represent love. Why make him young and playful then? The explanation for that choice seems to be that love, like a mischievous boy, can be unpredictable.
Most people know the story of Cupid shooting an arrow and causing the person to fall madly in love with the next person they see. Some depictions of Cupid feature two kinds of arrows–one golden tipped and one lead tipped. The golden arrow created that love connection. The lead tipped one, though, guaranteed the person would never fall in love with whomever they saw next
Cherubs are angelic creatures that are mentioned in Biblical references after the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Some scholars believe that because the first reference to cherubs is after the fall of Adam and Eve, they represent the innocence that was lost at the fall. Often, cherubs are depicted in garden scenes. They are seen as guardians of the garden. Typically, they have pleasant expressions upon their faces, but they sometimes have a fiercely protective look about them.
Artistic representation of cherubs does not match Biblical references to their appearance. Artistically, cherubs, like Cupid are depicted as chubby baby angels who are mischievous and fun. Biblically, cherubs were multi-winged creatures who were fiercely strong and protective. Artistic cherubs are often depicted as floating on beautiful clouds, while the Biblical depiction has them surrounded by fiery light. Further contrast between Biblical and artistic representation of cherubs is found in the activities in which they engage. Artistically speaking, cherubs are fun-loving creatures who delight people with their mischief. Biblically speaking, cherubs were charged with executing the will of God regardless of the reaction of the people.
Artistically, both Cupids and cherubs have been represented by various artists since the 1400s. Most notably, Renaissance and Baroque artists used the images in a variety of media from sculpture to painted works to frescoes. In the 19th century there was something of a resurgence in art featuring Cupid and cherub images.
Cupid and cherub images have been used on tapestries and rugs as well as in other more traditional artwork. Rugs are often used to add warmth and character to a space. Regardless of the overall design, rugs add an extra touch to any space. Rugs specifically designed with images of Cupid or cherubs fit nicely into a traditional home design. They also are known to fit into a cottage or shabby chic design aesthetic. Personal taste will dictate whether a Cupid or cherub will fit into your design plan.